John Wilson

73-year-old John Wilson 1 does not look like your stereotypical terrorist.


Hunched and with the remains of his white hair flying from the sides of his head, the former dentist is a regular fixture outside NSW courts. Spouting his hyperbole about being a Sovereign Citizen, he appears to be a harmless eccentric.

But to NSW Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics, 2 Mr Wilson is one of more than 300 anti-government extremists who pose a nationwide terrorism threat. Mr Wilson vehemently denies being a danger to anybody, even though he threw a bag of yellow liquid over a Supreme Court Judge in 1997, and has spent time in prison “unlawfully” for contempt of court, in 2006 he attempted a citizen’s arrest of a Supreme Court judge and in 2009, Mr Wilson sent a letter to the police commissioner. In it, he threatened to burn down the premises he was evicted from. “A terrorist generates fear” he says indignantly, “that is not what I am doing. I am trying to educate people that in a democracy they rule, they have sovereignty.”

“It means you are your own master, in other words you have the right to your own body, your own freedoms, and if anybody wants to impose something upon you, they have to do it lawfully. If you are a sovereign person, you make the laws for yourself. You decide in your own conscience what you want to do.”

Although Wilson has now run of money, he has managed to form the Common Law Party. He said that he is the victim of a government conspiracy and that there were hundreds of other Australians who shared his beliefs.

“There would be many hundreds scattered across the continent. The Queenslanders are very conscientious, the Victorians are doing a good job and even now in Western Australia we are getting more and more farmers and ordinary people, saying no, this is not right,” Mr Wilson said. “At the moment I have membership of about 95 people, but I haven’t really pushed it.”

John Wilson has been at war with the State for 20 years. He stopped paying tax 15 years ago after being evicted from his house for refusing to acknowledge the mortgage. “I will agree to pay tax voluntarily when I am compensated for being unlawfully put in prison by a judge only” he said defiantly.

He has been to court more than 200 times, starting with a case he brought about banks committing fraud by having variable interest rates. Since then he has become a colourful and ENTERTAINING figure in the courts, disrupting proceedings and protesting outside that all judicial powers are tyrannical, and that courts cannot exercise their authority without a jury. “You must have the judgment of your equals to put you in prison or dispossess you.” Sovereign citizens say they are not bound by statute law unless they contractually agree to be so bound. Government acts are optional and can only be used on individuals who agree to them.

They argue that statutes are “maritime law”, never meant for dry land as they were laws made for ships that were outside jurisdiction on the high seas. They believe that they can declare themselves independent of the government and the rule of law, the only “true” law is their own interpretation of common law. Mr Wilson say that “the word sovereign means the ultimate authority to make and impose laws. That applies to you. If you’re a sovereign person, you make the laws for yourself.” This, he believes, means sovereign citizens are not obliged to pay taxes or fines, parking fees or have driver licences. According to police, such people can become violent when they are required to act within the rules of the system. 3

In Attorney General of NSW v Wilson [2010] NSWSC 1008, 4 the Supreme Court declared John Wilson to be a vexatious litigant, after the following sets of cases:

Wilson v St George Bank Limited
Wilson v ACP Publishing Pty Ltd
Wilson v Greenwood & ors
The Prothonotary v Wilson
Wilson v St George Bank (No 2)
St George Bank v Wilson
Wilson v St George Bank (No 3)
Deputy Commissioner of Taxation v Wilson
Wilson v the State of New South Wales
Wilson v The Honourable Robert Carr MP
Wilson v State Electoral Office
Wilson v NSW Sheriff
Wilson v Dental Board of New South Wales
Wilson v Crown Solicitor
Wilson v State Debt Recovery Office
Wilson v GIO
Wilson v Hatzistergos
Wilson v State of New South Wales (No 2)

“Between 4 July 1996 and 17 October 2007 Mr Wilson commenced 14 sets of proceedings in the Court. When it is considered that the majority of individuals in our community would never institute legal proceedings, and those that do would ordinarily have a need to do so once or twice in their lives, commencing 14 separate Supreme Court actions in 11 years can be said to be the institution of proceedings “frequently”. Many of the proceedings he commenced, and most of the applications he made, were attempts to re-litigate matters which had already been determined against him, and sometimes on many occasions. In particular, his claim that he was entitled to trial by jury for the determination of motions filed was made time and again, sometimes even to the same judge, when the matter had been determined against him. The matter is particularly highlighted in the proceedings where the High Court granted an indemnity costs order because Mr Wilson was raising for the third time before the High Court matters which it had already determined against him. All of the proceedings commenced by Mr Wilson constituted an abuse of the process of the Court concerned and were instituted and pursued without reasonable ground. Applications that he made both in his own proceedings and in proceedings commenced against him seeking trial by jury, particularly for the hearing of notices of motion, were an abuse of process of the Court and were pursued without reasonable ground. Accordingly, I make the following orders:

(1) Pursuant to s 8(7)(b) Vexatious Proceedings Act 2008 John Wilson is prohibited from instituting proceedings in New South Wales other than with leave of an appropriate court under that Act.

(2) Any legal proceedings instituted by John Wilson in any court or tribunal in New South Wales before the date of this order are hereby stayed.

(3) Order that John Wilson is not to be allowed to file and is hereby restrained from filing and also from serving any Notice of Motion in any proceedings currently before any court or tribunal in New South Wales, and is not to be allowed to make and is hereby restrained from making any oral application in such proceedings without the leave of a judge of an appropriate court under that Act.

(4) The Defendant is to pay the Plaintiff’s costs of the proceedings.”

Click to access attorney-general-of-nsw-v-wilson-2010-nswsc-1008.pdf

The decision was appealed in John Wilson v The Attorney General of New South Wales [2011] NSWCA 10 5 and the appeal was dismissed.

Click to access john-wilson-v-the-attorney-general-of-new-south-wales-2011-nswca-10.pdf

In 2016, John Wilson was back in the courts, as he believed that he may have been defamed by a report broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on television on 30 November 2015, (the same content as above) and sought leave to institute proceedings otherwise prohibited by the terms of the 2010 order, in Application by John Wilson [2016] NSWSC 1527 6 The Court made orders pursuant to s 16 of the Vexatious Proceedings Act 2008 (NSW) directing the applicant to serve relevant persons with a copy of documentation concerning his application.

Click to access application-by-john-wilson-2016-nswsc-1527.pdf

The “relevant persons” were the proper officer of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Attorney General, and the Solicitor General. They were each served but filed no submissions with the Court within the specified time frame of 21 days from receipt of the documentation, so the application was determined on the basis of evidence and submissions from the applicant only. Leave was granted to pursue preliminary discovery in Application by John Wilson (No 2) [2016] NSWSC 1822 7 although I cannot locate an outcome of these proceedings, nor were they cited in any further cases, hence I assume the defamation case never went ahead.

Click to access application-by-john-wilson-no-2-2016-nswsc-1822.pdf

John Wilson left this comment on the Australian Paralegal Foundation website in 2017: 8

“Dear Rob, You show your true colors with your statements that, ” The term “common law” is itself common, but most people do not know exactly what it means. Its meaning, though, is pretty simple: it refers to unwritten, judge-made law (as opposed to written, or statutory, law). That is the lie that that the corrupt and treacherous legal profession implement constantly to deny people justice and conceal their own malfeasance. Common law is what is says. It is the law of the people, by the people and for the people. Common law is democracy. It is made by the unanimous judgments of juries. Trial per pais. You will have to read Sir William Blackstone and Lysander Spooner. That is where you have blown your cover.”


In Condon v Wilson [2012] FMCA 1069 an application to be joined as a respondent in proceedings commenced by Mr Condon as trustee of Dr Wilson’s bankrupt estate was approved, notwithstanding that at the same time he asserted that he does not recognise the jurisdiction of the court, or his bankruptcy, and claims it is necessary that there be a trial by jury. He continued to interrupt the hearing by interjecting “no jurors, no jurors”. 9 In Condon v Wilson (No.2) [2012] FMCA 1070 (the same day) the respondent also took issue with the appointments of all judges, including the judges of the Federal Court as well as this Court, on the basis that none of the judges are legitimate judges and their appointments are frauds, repeating that he has an automatic right to trial by jury. 10

In Wilson v Condon [2013] FCA 184 he asserted that he had clear evidence from the Privy Council that the judges appointment was “totally fraudulent” and that the whole of the structure of the courts in Australia is a “total fraud” and that the Federal Court is not a court. When asked whether he wished to have the appeal listed for hearing or whether he wanted me to strike it out, his response was that he did not want me to do anything and that I was “a fraud”. He repeated the phrase “you are a fraud” several times to various questions. He sought what he described as a “peremptory stay of proceedings” until the jurisdiction of the Court was determined, and wanted the court to empanel a “special jury” to determine this. When this was denied, he then said: “This is more than just fraud, this is treason this is incredible treason against the people of Australia.  You and your brothers are denying us our lawful rights, our lawful rights to the lawful judgment of our equals.  That is democracy and we had that right since Magna Carta guaranteed it and you are disregarding it.  You are incredibly corrupt, incredibly evil.” The appeal was dismissed on the basis that the notice of appeal was embarrassing, the conduct of the appellant abusive and vexatious. 11

John Wilson’s Dilemma 12

Click to access john-wilsons-dilemma.pdf